Sunday, January 7, 2007

Christmas Celebration at Csobanka - Emmanuel Baptist Church

Christmas is a special time, especially for children. The children at Emmanuel Baptist Church, a Roma (Gypsy) church in Csobanka were no different. They dreamed of presents, candy, and other goodies. Unfortunately their parents are mostly unemployed so the families live well below the poverty level. This year something was different as the air buzzed with excitement at the church. At Christmas time they learned there was a birthday to celebrate and the children had heard rumors of gifts and yummy food. It was difficult to participate in the singing, help light the advent wreath, and sit through a sermon! Finally something out of the ordinary was happening! The girls and then the boys were asked to come forward and each was given a large Christmas bag full of goodies. After graciously saying thank you, they eagerly peeked inside. The bags were full of toys, school supplies, socks, gloves, a hat, dental supplies, an orange, and most importantly, candy! Wow! Even the adults got a surprise treat of candy canes and “szalon cukor” (special Hungarian Christmas candy) tied together with colorful ribbon. The party continued with lots of red and green cupcakes and fruit flavored soda. As the families left you could hear shouts of “Merry Christmas” floating through the dark night. Happy Birthday Jesus!

More About the Service:
The lighting of the advent wreath is a relatively new experience for this church. Ralph explained what each candle stood for and a young girl or boy came forward to light the candle. Afterwards the congregation repeated, "Peace, joy, love, and hope".

You can see from a few of the pictures that we set up an assembly line in our basement to stuff the bags full of goodies. Our son, Josh, and our CBF Global Service Corp worker, Penny Mann, were on hand to help. This project was made possible because of the prayers of our supporters and the generosity of several church groups: Westwood Baptist Church, Cary, NC; Grace Fellowship Baptist Church & Mollie Monk, Meridian, MS; Ladies Mission Group, FBC, Clemson, SC; and Ladies Mission group, Parkway Baptist Church, Greensboro, NC. It was a joyous time!

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